I was fortunate enough to have been able to go see our school’s fall production entitled, “The Dining Room”. It featured ten PVMHS students as the main cast members who played more than 20 individual characters in this one play alone. Having sat in on a rehearsal a week ago, I did not know what to expect of the opening night’s full performance. I had considered not going to watch because I had seen and heard a great deal about it from classmates who are a part of our expanding Stage One group. But boy- am I glad that I did go see it.
In this one production, life in the Northeast United States is falling apart. We have servants quitting, gender roles flipping, and husbands are not the only ones cheating on their wives with other women. It consisted of 16 overlapping vignettes that had almost no correlation to each other, each taking place in a classic dining room. Each story line featured the lives of several families from several time periods. We learn of a family living in the middle of the Great Depression and a pair of siblings fighting over the inheritance of this one dining room set. From there, we see a graduate student on a laptop bickering with her husband over the fact that she is writing a term paper in his beloved dining room. The girl’s husband calls it “systematically mutilating the dining room table”. Then we see a boy upset at his maid, or nanny, is leaving to start her own family.
This story is overlapped with that of an architect and his client whilst in the middle of planning to remodel. We even get to witness a birthday party being slightly ruined by a woman and her friend’s husband planning to run away together. These scenarios are only some of those within the first act of the play. Overall, this play in particular is what some people call an “actors’ play”. Many audience members might not understand it, which is absolutely okay. This is a production that requires very minimal costume changes and unlimited control when it comes to creativity. This is where director, Mr. Carey, deserves all of the praise he can get. He took this play and completely blew my mind with it. The play has an overall connection to the death of unity in households. Nobody sits with their loved ones at the dining room table to have a meal and most people do not even have dining rooms anymore. The show technically has no plot whatsoever and the only thing that connects the vignettes is the one setting, making creativity a difficult thing to come by. With this unlimited control of creativity, Mr. Carey had the dining room as a part of a museum display and from there each vignette ran, looking back on to the lives of your everyday American families.
Stage One did an absolutely phenomenal job at paying attention to every last bit of detail and their hard work and dedication paid off immensely. Some scenes are better than others and this is noticeable if you were to read the playwright. However, each scene has potential to generate either heartaches and tears or side aches and laughter. By leaving having some scenes stick to their serious tone and lightening the mood with some humor when some of the plots got quite intense, it became a big hit with the audience. If you have the chance to see any of Stage One’s future productions, please do because you will not regret it.